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nicholas bonham-carter

nicholas bonham-carter

Joined on November 24, 2007

Last Post on April 16, 2014

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Recent Posts

where to skim?

@ March 8, 2011 12:51 AM in Emergency steamer replacement

nice job, but where is the skimming port?
and where is our favotite wika low pressure gauge?--nbc

fog horn sound from auto/over-fill

@ March 8, 2011 12:46 AM in HELP! Automatic feed sounds like a freight train!

how often is this happening, as there should not be such a great loss of water as to make this a daily occurrence
that sound is obviously coming from a chattering valve in the auto/over-fill. go to the website of the manufacturer [maybe mcdonell-miller], and you will find out if a rebuild kit is available. unless you are very handy, it might be time to call a pro, or wait until spring.
you may be able to moderate the problem by closing off the supply valve to the unit, and only opening it when you go down to check the boiler every couple of days [you do check the boiler regularly don't you?].--nbc

brooklyn boiler/freezer

@ March 7, 2011 7:27 PM in Unbalanced heat distribution

it is hard to diagnose this from a distance, but i'll gather some information. this hot-water or steam? if steam, is it 1-pipe or 2-pipe?
2.has the system always been so unbalanced? if not, was there something done to the system which preceded the imbalance?
3.what sort of thermostat is now in use [make/model]?
obviously, the system when first installed, would not have had these problems, so the goal is to bring it back to its previous state of operation.--nbc

mysterious new water-hammer

@ March 7, 2011 6:33 PM in Pipes banging no matter what I do

the removal of one [presumably] small radiator should not cause water-hammer to suddenly begin.
when were the valves/vents replaced? were these the main vents? if they were the radiator vents, did you replace with the same type? if the radiator vents are too aggressive, and the main vents are inoperative, or under-sized, then the imbalance thus created can allow water-hammer.
if during the work, the boiler water became contaminated with a bit of thread-cutting oil, then the waterline might become unsteady enough for the hammer to start, or if the boiler became over full. perhaps that radiator was holding a section of the main steam-line piping up straight, and without it being now connected the line is sagging causing a pool of condensate to be trapped in the way of the steam. check that your pressure is as low as possible as well.--nbc

good news

@ March 7, 2011 4:43 PM in Need Buffalo, NY contractor

maybe tim should advertise his services on this web site! you are not the first from buffalo to be looking for professional help!--nbc

hissing riser

@ March 7, 2011 12:36 PM in Capped Riser

it sounds as though the cap is leaking, possibly due to over-pressure. have your steam man check the pressure and reduce to under 2 psi MAX. reducing the pressure will reduce fuel cost as well [even more savings by further pressure reduction with a vaporstat].
naturally, the cap should be reset with some new teflon tape.--nbc


@ March 7, 2011 12:17 PM in Need Buffalo, NY contractor

if you can describe the symptoms here maybe we can get you through for a few days or more with a simple but temporary fix.
when you say "short-cycle", is that caused by low/high water, high pressure, or...?--nbc
i am surprised that your current steam man hasn't suggested someone else as a stand-in.

steam to hot water

@ March 7, 2011 7:26 AM in New Boilers for Steam System Previously Converted to Hot Water

if those boilers are 1.50 mbtu each, then perhaps they were over-sized. most likely, they were sized according to the old steam boiler.
i doubt if the landlord will have the temerity and smarts to at least consider the possibility of steam, unless he were to consider the cost of repiping the under-sized returns! in fact i wonder if anyone will think of doing a heat survey.
the clause in the lease which "excuses" poor heating performance could be against the landlord tennant laws in many states.--nbc

old rads

@ March 6, 2011 11:35 PM in ornate radiators

very nice, and i expect that most of that price is for the delivery! do you have 1-pipe [as they are], or 2-pipe--nbc

an impossible situation

@ March 5, 2011 8:10 PM in Burnham V11 Steamer

it must be difficult to be the "relief hitter" in this game. if something goes wrong who would get the blame?
can you get a letter from burnham showing that your service will not void the warranty [as if it were the result of some sort of exam you have passed]? how old is this boiler?
as it is another mechanical part to malfunction, the zone valve could be replaced by trvs, or at least exercised more regularly to keep them working. the church might be saving very little by zoning, and should have all service done by one person.--nbc

re-piping boiler

@ March 5, 2011 7:30 PM in Two equalizers?

you should be able to get the installation manual from the mfg's web-sight. study the required piping diagram and compare it to what you have. those mfg's requirements are the minimum required, and will show you the relationship with the second riser. 
a drop-header would be a big help on this one, to fit every thing into your constricted space, as jimmy says. there are plenty of pictures of them here. i don't think there is any necessity for a second equalizer as long as the one there is big enough.--nbc

is this the right one?:

best use of funds

@ March 5, 2011 11:26 AM in Could someone verify my thermostat theory?

i would do the main [not rad] vents, plus honeywell visionpro thermostat [installed in the north west corner inside wall], plus good a low pressure gauge. try to get the pressure as low as possible [my 55 rad system does most of the main venting by 2 ounces, and rarely goes above 8 ounces, using a vaporstat. i do have 17 gorton #2 main vents on 6 dry returns. if your building is tall, then you may need some riser vents.--nbc

what happens to the extra steam?

@ March 4, 2011 11:57 PM in Steam Vents Next to Chimneys in Old Photos

many large buildings had steam engines for electric power generation, and the excess/exhaust steam was used for heating.
some early heating systems had a vent line going into the chimney for air relief, and in some cases the maintenance of a vacuum within the system. nice pics!--nbc

reinstalling the radiator

@ March 4, 2011 11:40 PM in Several questions on my steam system

this advice applies to any sort of pipe union with mating faces.
examine carefully the mating faces of the union from spud to valve. if needed use a scotchbrite pad to clean any debris which could prevent a perfect mating of the faces. give a final wipe with an old baby's diaper, and lube the faces with dish-washing liquid. place the two faces together and get the collar seated on the threads of its mate. as you tighten, rock slightly while making sure the axis of alignment is kept for both.
a welding shop may be able to fill in the cracks with some sort of special brazing rod if all other attempts to find a substitute fail. you will still need to keep the spud if you dispose of the radiator in favor of another.
now what about your main vents?--nbc

a real reinvention of steam heating

@ March 4, 2011 11:28 PM in New steam mini tube system installed in my own house. (Iron Fireman style)

hats off to you for this most succesful experiment!!
could a system vacuum be of benefit here?--nbc

maybe this will be a solution!

@ March 4, 2011 5:29 PM in Change Existing Forced Air To Hydronic Heat With Baseboards

show this thread to your boilerman:

restoring old heating system

@ March 4, 2011 11:48 AM in Change Existing Forced Air To Hydronic Heat With Baseboards

probably, your old house once had radiators and pipes as its original heating system, so there are probably already the piping routes just waiting to be reused [except the attic]. modern radiators for hot water do not have the bulk of the originals, but would work well for hot water.
the hot water system would be more controllable, and the new ductless mini-splits by mitsubishi, fujitsu,  [and others] are more controllable as each one would handle several rooms which could be set individually, unlike a central system, where it is all or nothing.
perhaps jaimie can add something here on the reaction of various musical instruments to the hydronic as opposed to the scorched air environment. 
please keep us informed as this project evolves, as i am sure many people are in the same boat.--nbc

plummmmer ignores nonfuctioning boiler control

@ March 4, 2011 8:13 AM in Pressure Cut-Off Testing

this like the mechanic saying,"i knew your tires were leaking, so i put more air in them to compensate". what other parts of your boiler has he neglected---pressure relief valve?
to test the pressuretrol, you need an accurate gauge, whose range spans the pressuretrol range, as the 0-30 psi gauge is just not accurate enough. then you can observe the action [or inaction] of the pressuretrol.
if the pressuretrol is not shutting down the boiler at the cutout, it may be due to a clogged pigtail, which should have been checked, and cleaned by the plummmmer.
if the pressuretrol is mechanically broken, then consider replacing it with a 0-16 ounce  vaporstat, so that you are not paying for extra gas to over-pressure the system.--nbc

swapping radiators

@ March 4, 2011 7:58 AM in Several questions on my steam system

that sounds like the best solution. remember that if the steam shutoff valves are not the same on both radiators, that you will need to change the spud, or the valve itself. the spud and the valve are part of a set and must be kept togerther.--nbc


@ March 4, 2011 1:07 AM in Could someone verify my thermostat theory?

what make of control is now controlling your building? is it possible that it once had an indoor sensor, which has now been lost?
with the price of gas, and the great possibility for waste, the installation of a proper control system, supported by a current mfg should be on your list for your "adopted child". when you say the apartments are overheated, can you estimate how much gas has been wasted?  i suspect that the changeover to an effective control would save enough fuel to pay for the control in a few months! if the budget is very limited, a honeywell visionpro, or tekmar thermostat would at least monitor the inside temperature.
while you are deciding what to do about the control system, why not check out the rest of the system, as far as main venting, over-pressure, and pipe insulation.--nbc

radiator crack

@ March 3, 2011 8:21 PM in Several questions on my steam system

that is more drastic than i expected. maybe some jb weld would close it up for a short term repair, but probably it will need replacing. the radiator valve will probably also need replacing, unless you can remove the spud without damage, and reuse it in the replacement radiator.
if there are any scrap yards in your area, let them know that you are looking for a radiator. some steam/hydronics companies keep old ones on hand but would likely expect to be paid to do the installation [maybe not such a bad idea in your case].--nbc

broken vent and radiator

@ March 3, 2011 3:29 PM in Several questions on my steam system

can you show us a picture of the broken radiator? i would think, that the hole could be drilled out to the next larger size, tapped for the external diameter of  a bushing put in, whose internal size is the 1/8 in. needed for the new vent. when you use a tap on the radiator, use care not to go in crooked, so as not to put more stress on the radiator walls. perhaps a bit of practice on some other bit of metal will give you the experience you need.
you would find it helpful to have a copy of "the lost art of steaming" from the shop here in order to understand better the principles of operation, and terminology of steam heat.
the needed main vent will need to be beyond the last radiator on the line, which in a counter flow system is at the end; and in a parallel flow system would be close to the boiler on the dry return. surely there should be some previous location, now capped/plugged.
when you experience the water-hammer, can you tell if it was in the pipe, or the radiator, and beginning, or end of cycle?--nbc